February 14, 2022
This week we recognize the work of artist Bill Gilbert.
"Since moving to New Mexico, my work has been focused on articulating the relationship between humans and place. Starting in 1979 I made the commitment to work with the native materials of my environmental back yard in northern New Mexico as means to develop an intimacy with the land."
A site specific work on an abandoned tailings pond using aspen trees from the surrounding hillside, Desolation focuses on the beauty often present in destruction. The work changes through the course of the day in response to the movement of the sun, progressing from being nearly invisible in the early morning light to glowing with an apparently internal light at sunset.
"Started in 2003 in the field with the Land Arts of the American West mobile studio, the Physiocartographies series combines the abstraction of cartographic maps with the physical act of walking the surface of the planet to create portraits of place. In the various works from this series I follow prescribed paths across the landscape using a gps unit to navigate and record points, a camera to shoot images and a digital recorder to capture sounds. The final works appear as reconstructed maps, videos and installations."
"Part of my ongoing experiment in constructing a portrait of place by walking the surface of the planet, terrestrial/celestial navigations honors the relationship desert peoples have with the sky by weaving together heaven and earth. Each walk inscribes the land with the patterns of stars earlier cultures created to project their world into the night sky. In this series, I employ pedestrian and satellite technologies using google earth to establish GPS points for each star and my body to then inscribe constellations by walking them onto the ground."
Bill Gilbert is Emeritus Distinguished Professor and Lannan Endowed Chair at the University of New Mexico, where he co-founded the Art & Ecology area and created the Land Arts of the American West program and the Land Arts Mobile Research Center with support from Lannan Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. From 1990-2000 Gilbert served as head of Ceramics at UNM. His involvement in developing the curriculum included work with Indigenous artists from Acoma Pueblo and Pastaza, Ecuador and Mestizo artists from Juan Mata Ortiz, Mexico. He has curated numerous exhibitions and written extensively on the topic of Indigenous ceramics practices in the Americas. Over the past fifteen years Gilbert has developed an art practice based in walking completing projects in the United States in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming as well as internationally in Prespes, Greece, New South Wales and South Australia and Malta. Gilbert is author of two books, Land Arts of the American West and Arts Programming for the Anthropocene: art in community and environment, both of which address the need to update the curriculum in tertiary level art education to prepare students to contribute to the changing world they enter upon graduation. www.unm.edu/~wgilbert/physio.html
Featured Images: ©Bill Gilbert, "Terrestrial/Celestial Navigations" (2011-2014); "Desolation" (1992); "For John Wesley Powell: attempts to walk the grid" (2005-2007); "Mindlines"